Duke improves to 1-2 on the year while the Wildcats fall to 2-1.
Trailing by six points, Northwestern took possession of the ball at its own 35 yard line with just 1:17 left in the game. Completed passes of 24 and 10 yards pushed the Wildcats to the Duke 31 yard line and, after a sack, quarterback C.J. Bacher scrambled 35 yards to the seven yard line. The Blue Devils held, forcing four consecutive incomplete pass attempts to preserve the victory.
"This is a great team win," said Duke head coach Ted Roof.
Lewis completed 19-of-23 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns on the night. He found Jomar Wright seven times for 63 yards. Northwestern piled up 506 yards of total offense including a 368-yard passing evening from Bacher.
The two teams traded turnovers in the opening minute of the contest. Northwestern received the opening kickoff, and on its second play from scrimmage Bacher's pass was intercepted by Blue Devil linebacker Michael Tauiliili. Starting on the Wildcat 30 yard line, Duke was unable to take advantage by fumbling the football back to Northwestern on its initial snap.
Thanks in part to a third down quarterback pressure by defensive end Wesley Oglesby, the Duke defense forced a punt on the Wildcats' second possession. The Blue Devils responded by driving into Northwestern territory, and Lewis connected with wide receiver Raphael Chestnut with a 27-yard gain to convert a fourth down and give Duke a first-and-goal situation at the four yard line. On the next snap, Lewis found wideout Jomar Wright over the middle in the end zone for a touchdown to cap the 11-play, 86-yard drive that took 5:24 off the clock.
Northwestern countered with a 10-play, 83-yard scoring drive that ended when running back Brandon Roberson scored on a five-yard run with 3:45 remaining in the opening period. Following Jabari Marshall's 27-yard kickoff return to the 30 yard line, Duke ventured past midfield again and Lewis hooked up with tight end Brandon King for a seven-yard scoring strike to push the Blue Devils back ahead, 14-7, with 13:48 left in the second quarter. The march covered 70 yards in 10 plays with Lewis hitting on all seven of his throws for 58 yards.
Duke forced its second turnover of the game when cornerback Leon Wright intercepted a pass in the end zone for a touchback midway through the second period. Lewis then engineered a seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive that ended when his 12th consecutive pass completion went to Ronnie Drummer for a 56-yard touchdown. Duke's extra point was wide, giving the Blue Devils a 20-7 advantage with 6:16 remaining in the second quarter.
Northwestern then drove 62 yards down the field for a successful 34-yard field goal, but opted to accept an offsides penalty against Duke and set up a fourth down and two at the Blue Devil 11 yard line. On the ensuing snap, Bacher threw a pass intended for Omar Conteh, but Duke cornerback Glenn Williams knocked the ball free to give the Blue Devils possession. Duke then ran the clock out to end the opening half with a 20-7 lead.
The Wildcats scored the only points of the second half when Bacher scored on a one-yard plunge on the opening play of the fourth quarter. The touchdown run capped a nine-snap, 65-yard drive that started when Northwestern gained possession following a reviewed spot call when Duke's Lewis dove for what appeared to be a Duke first down on a fourth-and-one play from the Wildcat 35 yard line.
Duke remains on the road next Saturday, traveling to Annapolis, Md., to face the Naval Academy. Kick-off is set for 1 p.m. and the game will be televised live by CSTV.